Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hearty Nut Bread

When my oldest was 5 months, we finally figured out he had food hyper-sensitivities. He was "allergic" to milk (aka all dairy including butter & whey), soy (this includes soybean oil which is in everything!) and wheat. Fortunately he outgrew the wheat fairly quickly. He eventually outgrew it all, but we obviously had to make some modifications in the meantime.

My mother-in-law makes this bread & was able to alter it so that we could eat it. You have no idea how something like bread can mean so much given the right circumstances. So, if there's anyone reading this who has to avoid milk, I've included the alternative options as well. Also, I use a breadmaker so I just dump all the ingredients in & away it goes. So easy! My kids still eat this bread. I have to make it 1-2 times a week as they love it so much. I'd eat it too, but then I'd have to make it even more often. I normally make it after I put the boys to bed & set it so it will be ready to eat in the morning. Making it more often would seriously cut into "my" time.

Hearty Nut Bread (2 lbs)

1 Tbsp canola oil
1 1/3 C warm water (when I don't heat it, the bread doesn't rise like it should even though it sits for
            hours. I normally warm in the microwave for 1-1.5 minutes)
1/3 C molasses (since I don't like molasses, I do a combo of half molasses & half honey)
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp dry milk (if you have a milk allergy, replace with 3/4 tsp. baking powder after you add flour)
1 7/8 C whole wheat flour (there is no 7/8, so just eye it)
1/2 C oats
1 7/8 C white flour
2/3 C walnuts (optional)
2 tsp. or 1 package active dry yeast

I set the breadmaker to the whole wheat setting, on light.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Have Pears? Make Tart.

Last week we obtained a number of pears from the CSA. This means:
1. They are in season.
2. I need to figure out something to do with them since my family isn't big on pears.

I decided to make a pear tart. Further, I decided to overcome a big fear of mine: making crust from scratch. Let me tell you: the crust part was a bit of a debate. My hubby's mom makes most things from scratch (always has as its in her generation to do so) & she has deemed Pillsbury's refrigerated crust just as tasty as the real stuff so she doesn't even bother making her own anymore. My theory is: if it's good enough for her, it's good enough for me.

I find a what looks like a good recipe with great reviews. It includes making the crust from scratch. Hmmm. I look to see if I have a refrigerated dough on hand. I do, however it expired in January (oops!). Then I check out the ingredients: bleached flour, lard with BHT & BHA (the same stuff in cereal I just threw out), Yellow 5 & Red 40. Perfect! Everything you don't want to eat!
I've vowed to do a better job with pictures so here it is, but I'm no food stylist!

I bite the bullet & make the tart, crust & all. Here it is though: it was easy!!! I followed the recipe, which you can find here, but I did the crust in the food processor. I did cut the butter into little cubes before I added it. The processor even rolled it into the little ball for me! Oh & the crust is half whole wheat! I did use whole wheat flour made from "white wheat" (lighter & just as healthy).

If you find yourself stocking up on pears since they are in season, it's a very tasty way to make them.  Did I mention it was delish? My 5 year old who doesn't eat fruit or veggies gobbled it up! Turns out, crust is nothing to be afraid of. Watch out for my new & improved Thanksgiving & Christmas pies!!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fire-Retardant Free PJs (and a fun craft to boot!)

I had a little sabbatical from my blog. Truth is, it was summer, my kids were out of school & I found my time slipped away. Also, a few things I planned to try & write about didn't turn out quite the way I anticipated. Such is life, but I am back. Along those lines, after take-2 we finally successfully made our new PJs!

You may recall, we were going to make PJs because I discovered the chemical used in the fire-retardant that they put on kids pajamas, infant mattress pads, the foam in car seats, etc. is on the EPA's list of ingredients most harmful for kids. I also recently learned that the state legislature in NY passed a bill preventing manufacturers from including this chemical (TCEP) in products sold in their state. I am hopeful there will be a top-down effect from this for those of us not in NY.

I also discovered this website which provides general education on the subject. It's great for general information, but I was disappointed that it does not include a list of alternative products if you are trying to avoid some of these chemicals.

But, back to the PJs. If I can't buy PJs without fire retardant*, by golly, we'll make them! I bought plain t-shirts at Michaels (on sale for $2.50 ea!) and some boxers. First, I tried buying an iron-on. This was the failed plan. Then using these iron-on things, the kids colored pictures, I scanned them & then printed to the iron-ons. First I printed the design backward. Once I finally did get it right, I realized there were a few tiny bubbles in it. The washing machine does quite a number on it from there. And, you must use the "dark" option to print on a darker shirt, "light" for a white shirt. However, using light on a dark shirt helps the failed plan show up in a picture on a blog so you can easily see how it failed.

Now: the successful plan. I finally decided to just buy fabric paint & fabric markers. They have had a blast making these shirts! Much more fun than just coloring pictures. It has even sparked imagination. My 3-yr-old made an orange dot & declared it a peacock! These were so fun to make & we now have little keepsakes that make me smile every time they wear them. I will always remember that cars & raccoons were a big part of our lives at this age!

*I did find fire retardant-free  PJs at Old Navy. I'm not sure if it was a fluke or if their PJs don't normally contain the chemical. But, I'll likely be back to buy more.